Sen. Schumer calls on NRG to extend water pumping contract in Tonawanda

Local News

Lawmakers say thousands of jobs in the Town of Tonawanda are potentially at risk right now. They say the Huntley Plant in Tonawanda has been providing several major businesses in the town with intake access to water from the Niagara River through a contract which could end soon. 

“NRG has announced in a heartless, cruel and dumb move that they’re going to shut off the water in 2019,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said. “I am here to demand of NRG, a major national company, to keep the water flowing and keep the jobs in Tonawanda. 

NRG has not announced that they are cutting off water in 2019, David Gaier, Senior Director, Communications and Spokesman, said. 

Gaier also refuted Schumer’s claims that NRG will shut off the water in 2019, calling them “totally inaccurate”. 

NRG has contracts with the plants to provide water intake services, and those contracts are in effect now and can be extended by mutual agreement,” Gaier said. 

 Sen. Schumer says 4,000 jobs are at risk if the Huntley plant were to end its agreement. 

So, how much water are we talking?

“When we say ‘supplying water,’ we’re not talking about a little bit of water,” Tonawanda Supervisor, Joseph Emminger said. “We’re talking about tens of millions of gallons a day. So they can’t operate without this raw water.”

Emminger says the town does have plans to build their own $27 million pumping station, but it wouldn’t open for at least three years. And if Huntley were to end this contract, there would be a gap that officials fear could mean the end of business for some. 

And Sen. Schumer says he’s ready to fight if that happens.

“I’m not afraid to use the cloud I have as minority leader to help out my constituents,” he said.” “NRG comes before congress for a whole lot of stuff, and if they can be as heartless and cruel and selfish to do this, I can’t look favorably on a company like that.”

NRG has responded to these comments with a statement saying,

“Regarding the closed Huntley plant, the current contracts for water intake services are still in effect and may be extended by mutual agreement. NRG is aware of the importance of the industrial plants’ access to water and we continue to work with them, and with the Town of Tonawanda, while balancing the needs and future opportunities for the site which is key priority for the community and NRG as well. To be clear, NRG does not provide water to these industrial customers. They operate their own pumping equipment on the site to take water from the Niagara River. We have confidential commercial contracts in place to permit their ongoing use. It’s important to note that Huntley station has been retired for two years, and we’ve worked in good faith with those industrial companies for almost three years — since before the station closed — to accommodate their needs and allow time to plan for the future.” said Gaier. 

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